Kilpatrick Calls Greene Investigation ‘Frivolous’
DETROIT — Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick called the investigation into slain exotic dancer Tamara Greene’s death “frivolous” on Monday while testifying in federal court.
On Monday, he said that he became aware of the investigation into her death in early 2006.
“I thought it was frivolous then, and even more so now,” Kilpatrick said.
Greene was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2003. It was rumored that she danced at a never-proven party at the Manoogian Mansion that was thrown by then-mayor Kilpatrick in 2002.
Her family has filed a lawsuit against the city claiming Kilpatrick and other high-ranking city officials thwarted the investigation into her death.
At the center of testimony by Kilpatrick Monday was the whereabouts of a series of e-mails from 2002-2003. The family’s attorney, Norman Yatooma, said the city has repeatedly withheld records in the case and that evidence related to the case has been intentionally destroyed, specifically e-mails sent between officials on city-owned computers.
Kilpatrick is among the people who have been ordered to testify about the case. Others include his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, and former Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings.
During his three hours of testimony, Kilpatrick said he could not remember or recall deleting specific emails. He admitted he had deleted e-mails after they were read, but not on purpose to cover up any wrongdoing. He also said he never told anyone in his office to delete e-mails.
Then during the last five minutes of testimony, he said the following about the Greene investigation and his e-mails.
“Absolutely, unequivocally, no. There has never been any communication about Tamara Greene or her murder investigation,” he said.
He said he had three computers when he was mayor, from 2002 to fall 2008, but typically used only his City Hall computer. He said he didn’t know about any computer hard drives being removed.
He said he wasn’t tech-savvy enough to even know how to purge e-mails.
“Unfortunately, I’m not a computer guy. I rarely did computer work at all at home,” Kilpatrick said. He said the mail in his inbox ranged from “‘Happy birthday’ to ‘We need to cut grass at X park,’ and everything in between.”
“I expect Kwame to lie. It’s what he knows. It’s what he’s good at. It’s his comfort zone. So, I expected a lie. If you think about everything that Kwame Kilpatrick ever been accused of and everything you know now to be true, he lied every time,” said Yatooma.
As he questioned Kilpatrick, Yatooma was repeatedly reined in by U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen, who stopped him from asking about a confidential FBI report and limited the inquiry to e-mail from 2002 and 2003. “What you’re doing with your questioning, you’re testifying. … I don’t want speeches,” Whalen told Yatooma at one point.
“There was a requirement under the law for them to keep these e-mails,” Yatooma said. “They should have known that these e-mails were necessary at such time that the attorney general was investigating the party. They should have known that these e-mails were relevant at such time when the chief of police wrote a letter and said keep everything on file. It’s more than just curiosity.”
A city lawyer has testified that the computer Kilpatrick used in his mayoral office was thrown out in 2008, while a lawyer for Kilpatrick has said the computer was left for his successor, Ken Cockrel Jr.
“The city appears to have wagered a bet that there’s going to be less of a penalty to pay to destroy the evidence than it would be for them to produce it,” Yatooma said. “That’s why the law says that if you destroy the evidence, you can be held accountable.”
Kilpatrick’s attorney, Jim Thomas, said there was no cover up and it’s time to put an end to the case.
City officials deny any wrongdoing and have asked that the lawsuit be thrown out. Kilpatrick is in prison for violating probation in a criminal case. He’s also under indictment on federal fraud and tax charges.